George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Robert Howe, 17 October 1779

To Major General Robert Howe

Head Quarters West Point 17th October 1779

Dear Sir

I was favd last Evening with your two letters of yesterday.1 I cannot learn from the Deserters who have come out the two past days that any troops came up the River at the time you mention, but as movements might have taken place below of which they were ignorant, I very much approve of your making use of every precaution against a surprize—The enemy, upon the last settlement of accounts, fell much in our debt on the score of marine prisoners—Those taken by Capt. Hollet cannot therefore be sent in just now2—Our Commy General of prisoners will in his next return to the British Commy make report of these people and can then forward a letter from the Mate to his Captain; in which he may request what is wanting for himself and Men.

The Commissary of Hides is directed by the Regulations of his department to exchange Hides for shoes whenever he can find an opportunity, but the shoes so obtained are to be returned to the Cloathier General, to be by him regularly distributed to the whole Army in proportion to their wants.3 I doubt not but your division are distressed for Shoes, but I assure you the Men who have been upon constant fatigue at this post are in as miserable a condition as you can imagine. I am however endeavouring to draw together a stock from every quarter, which when collected shall be impartially distributed. I am &c.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

On this date, GW, writing from headquarters at West Point, sent a second letter to Howe updating him with the latest intelligence: “Since writing to you this morning I learn that Col. Webster with 3 Regts left New York the 13th and came up the No. River—a short time by deserters or otherwise must ascertain the fact—the information however serves to show the propriety of the precautions you have taken—I give you this intelligence that you may continue them” (Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). For the source of GW’s revised intelligence, see GW to Anthony Wayne, this date. The British sent no expedition up the Hudson at this time, but they had recently embarked several regiments at New York as a potential relief force in case of an American attack on Stony Point, N.Y. (see Wayne to GW, 5 Oct., n.2).

1These letters have not been found.

2GW probably is referring to Capt. Jonah Hallett, who was at this time commanding a detachment of New York state troops in Westchester County, N.Y., but who soon joined Col. Stephen Moylan’s 4th Continental Dragoons as a lieutenant.

3For Congress’s new regulations for the commissaries of hides, adopted in July, see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 14:870–72; see also Board of War to GW, 14 Aug., and GW to the Board of War, 16 August.

Index Entries